Reliable? Valid? I think so! (My first Op-Ed Piece!)

Bullying has become the new hot topic in media stories today, and everyday we hear of tragic accounts of children and adolescents being bullied to the worst degree, and even taking their own lives. With the advancement in technology we are faced with many different forms of bullying and harassment compared to the typical schoolyard bullying stories our parents recall. Cyber-bullying is increasingly gaining more and more attention because many children and youth are falling victim to this type of harassment. Adults, parents, and school personnel are all trying to understand the severity of cyber bullying, and more and more people are trying to educate themselves on what it is, and how to prevent it from happening to them or their child. For this reason I chose Wikipedia’s Cyber bullying page to be under the microscope to determine the validity of Wikipedia’s information. I think this investigation is important, because Wikipedia will most likely be the first stop by people researching this important topic.

The ongoing debate of whether or not to use Wikipedia as a credible source of information continues to rage on with some people on the yes side, and some on the no side. Most of my fellow classmates agree that Wikipedia is a useful and credible source of information. In Bryan Rybansky’s blog he is on the yes side of the debate and finds Wikipedia extremely useful, “my experience with Wikipedia has always been very positive, the structure of each Wikipedia link is the same, simple, informative, and most importantly current”, after reading the articles on how Wikipedia works and the way it is structured, Cole Crerar’s blog seems to also lean more toward the yes side of the debate as well  “through reading the articles about Wikipedia, I might be more inclined to use it as a valuable source of reference in the future, there are a great deal of collective voices relaying information not for their own benefit, but simply to share information”. For this reason I decided to do some investigating myself and checked out Wikipedia’s Cyber bullying page to examine how editors handled information, to see if there were any biased point of views, and most importantly to see where they are getting their information.

In Jensen’s (2012) article he discusses the guidelines Wiki editors’ use when editing an article and talks about the NPOV (neutral point of view rule) where editors are to remain neutral on topics under debate. Under the talk tab on the Cyber bullying page, there were many debates on whether or not certain sources of information were useful to the page and whether or not they should remain there or be taken down. These debates could have fallen under Jensen’s (2012) category of “edit-wars” due to the number of posts and suggestions on the topic, however these debates were done democratically and respectfully, maintaining a neutral point of view, listening to one another’s opinions, and eventually coming to a consensus. Another area of concern for Wikipedia users is the credibility of the editors posting information on the page. According to Royal and Kapila (2009) they discuss this issue and talk about how Wikipedia is criticized for its credibility, and the different criteria’s used to judge the validity of sources on Wiki pages. Although there is no mention of credentials on the Cyber bullying Wikipedia page, the editors do use valid sources from where they retrieve their information, and many edits are made to certain topics using valid sources most coming from peer-reviewed journal articles. When a university student is assigned to write an essay on a certain topic, they are not experts on the subject, but they do gather information from scholars who are, which to me is a similar way in which Wikipedia gathers their information. Lastly, in Giles’ article Internet Encyclopedias go head to head, he talks about creating a way to let readers know the legitimacy of the Wikipedia article they are researching. If the information is coming from a legitimate source, such as scholarly or peer-reviewed article, then does it matter who is regurgitating the information? In my opinion no it does not. Being a third year university student, I have had quite the experience researching through countless research articles, educating myself on the topic I was assigned to write on, and using this research to prove my points and support my topic. Now, because I am not an expert, but the information I provided was based on expert’s research and findings, would this automatically deem my work invalid to people reading my paper? I would hope not. In terms of Wikipedia’s cyber bullying page, I do think that it does provide a good variety of information on the topic, especially for people looking to learn more about the subject. Elise Takahashi’s blog sums up the way Wikipedia should be used  “Overall I think that depending on what type of information you are looking for will determine what type of source you will want to use”. When attempting to gain back-round knowledge on a topic such as cyber-bullying, Wikipedia’s page is useful, it provides a variety of sources on the topic, and allows you to explore the subject further.

 

 

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Giles. J. (2005). Special Report: Internet encyclopedias go head to headNature. 438, pp 900-901.

Jensen, R. (2012). Military History on the Electronic Frontier: Wikipedia Fights the War of 1812. Journal of Military History. 76, 1. pp 1165-1182

Royal, C. & Kapila, D. (2009). What’s on Wikipedia, and What’s Not . . . ?: Assessing Completeness of Information. Social Science Computer Review. 27, 1. pp 138-148.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberbullying

http://colecrerar.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/module-3-the-controversy-of-wikipedia/

http://br09um.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/wiki/

http://etakahashi2f00.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/wiki-wiki-whaaattt/

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